FUNCTIONAL LITERACY in the 10-64 age group was 91.6% in 2019, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said, citing the results of its Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey.
The 2019 rate was higher than the 90.3% rate recorded in the 2013 study. This corresponds to around 73.01 million functionally literate out of a total of 79.75 million. In 2013 the corresponding totals were 62.70 million out of 69.44 million.
Some 53.4% of Filipinos in the target age segment had completed at least four years of secondary education, with 24.3% deemed able to “read, write, compute, and comprehend,” while 13.8% only capable of reading, writing, and computing.
Functional literacy is defined as a “significantly higher level of literacy” compared with basic literacy, including numeracy skills in addition to reading and writing. According to the PSA, these skills “must be sufficiently advanced” to enable a person to “participate fully and efficiently” in common activities that require a “reasonable capability of communicating by written language.”
Females posted a functional literacy rate of 92.9% compared with their male counterparts at 90.2%. These were higher compared with the 2013 survey result of 92% for females and 88.7% for males.
The 20-24 age bracket posted the highest functional literacy rate of 96%, while those aged 60-64 had the lowest rate of 84.8%.
By region, Metro Manila posted the highest functional literacy rate of 96.5%, while the lowest was recorded in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) with 71.6%.
Survey participants who had completed at least junior high school were deemed 100% literate. The corresponding rate for those who were registered as “no grade completed” or participated in “early childhood education” was 2.7%.
Those with an elementary education had a 71.9% functional literacy rate, while elementary graduates and those at the junior high school level posted rates of 85.7% and 92.8%, respectively.
The urban-rural literacy split was 94.5% to 87.8% in favor of city dwellers.
Asian Institute of Management Economist John Paolo R. Rivera said the results were expected.
“The growth of functional literacy rates in the country is attributed to the continuous improvement and innovation in the education system (e.g., face to face learning, online learning, blended learning, outcomes-based education, etc.) — all of which are hinged on the goal of having an educated citizenry,” he said in an e-mail.
Mr. Rivera ascribed the high functional literacy rates in Metro Manila and other highly-urbanized areas to the accessibility of educational facilities and learning materials.
“BARMM, one of the poorest regions in the country by income, can be construed to have limited or impeded access to educational resources due to a combination of socio-economic-political reasons,” he said.
He added that functional literacy rates “might decline” due to lower school participation as a result of the pandemic.
“The pandemic has altered the educational system of the country. The economic conditions also affected demand for education due to perceived risks. Due to safety reasons and/or financial constraints, many skipped schooling this year particularly in basic education,” Mr. Rivera said.
FLEMMS is conducted every five years with the latest iteration being the sixth in the series of literacy surveys that began in 1989. The 2019 was conducted in November and December 2019. — Jobo E. Hernandez